The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited All Power Construction Corporation of Huntsville, Alabama and staffing agency Labor Finders of Tennessee Inc. after a temporary employee installing sewer lines suffered a fatal injury in a trench collapse in Huntsville. All Power Construction Corp. faces $139,684 in proposed penalties and Labor Finders of Tennessee Inc. faces the maximum allowed $12,934 in proposed penalties.
OSHA issued willful and serious citations to All Power Construction on November 7, 2017 for allowing employees to work in a trench without cave-in protection, failing to provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and not having a competent person inspect the trench to identify potential hazards.
OSHA noted the worksite consisted of a 200-foot long trench excavation that was eight feet deep. No ladder, ramp or other safe means of exit were within OSHA's specified 25-foot requirement, and in fact employees had to climb on top of a concrete storm pipe to get out of the trench. Daily inspections for soil stability at the excavation site by a competent person were not made, nor was there an adequate protection system in place to prevent the trench walls from caving in.
OSHA cited the staffing agency, Labor Finders of Tennessee based in Madison, Tennessee for one serious violation for not ensuring that employees were trained on trenching and excavation hazards.
The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.
“Employers are responsible for ensuring their worksites are free of recognized hazards,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA Birmingham Area Office Director. “This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer followed the necessary steps to ensure that protective systems were used.”
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.